Concept: A Monument to Failure – Realised

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One of my recent concepts; that of the very nature of wood, of flight, and of failure. The whole idea of Icarus as a figure; of Death, of Transcendence, and of the ability to gain the power of a God (if only for a brief, fleeting moment) are concepts that have fascinated me for a fair few years now. This body of work is meant to symbolise Icarus’ failure, and a state of death. My investigations into the concept of ‘Death of the Self’ have led me to create works that are at once hopeless, but also seek to provide some form of insight into the enigma of Death. The birds themselves are static things, seemingly trapped within the strings that hold them aloft; almost hung, melancholic. They are made of wood; a dead state of matter, the corpse of a tree, as well as wool, dead hair sheared from the body of something living. These two materials, and their connotations, at once express a link to death; dead states of matter, utilised by human hands for our own means, there’s something deeply poetic about human nature here. The way they ‘look’; ramshackle, broken, falling apart at the seams, is very reminiscent of ancient effigies of gods, as well as the dolls and idols utilised in voodoo. There is also something deeply alchemical about them; the use of wood, which creates fire, fuels the flight of these birds, but in the myth of Icarus, it also burns when exposed to the heat of the sun, causing Icarus’ death. Could I utilise some form of fire within the piece? this threat of fire, this threat of death, it may create another level of depth to the work. It could incite a passion, or a fear, within the viewer. The fallen ‘bird’ could be burnt; it may cause something more potent to be questioned, something more than a pile of wood and wool on the floor.

Another interesting concept explored in this work is the fact that these birds; so often regarded as the most free of all the organisms on the earth, has been suspended ‘mid-flight’. It is trapped within the wool, trapped within the physical limitations of the materials it is crafted from. These objects are nothing more than that, they are simply objects; but through an intervention from myself, they seem to become something more; through the suspension of disbelief, they become spiritual accessories. As I have previously mentioned, the final bird, symbolising the fall of Icarus, lies broken upon the floor of the space; this is a rather simple symbol of ‘failure’, but in the context of these other ‘birds’, it takes on another meaning; Release. Although the bird has fallen, and theoretically perished, he has broken free of the strings that have bound him. He has escaped the ‘mortal coil’, transcended, at the crux of death. Much like Icarus, who achieved the powers of the higher beings; flight, and then died through the process of this, the bird has been freed. Many religions argue that at the point of death, one transcends to heaven, or to some form of  a higher plane; through this process of death, he becomes something else; through sacrifice, he becomes more than he ever was mortally. It’s as if, those who do not give up those pleasures of the earth, cannot achieve the same majesty that those who renounce do. Some of the birds also appear to look down at the corpse, maybe in a moment of pity, but do not do anything to help him, or aid him, or provide him with any sort of funeral; much like that of Icarus, who was lost at sea until Heracles found his body; a dishonourable death, until he was buried properly. There is something here, in this wood, in this matter, that prompts such emotions in me; much like the bible, or the concept of religion, I feel like these ‘Birds’ allow me to achieve some form of higher living, through my pursuit of knowledge.

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